Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Down in the Jungle Room

Confession: neither Dan nor I are what you’d call Elvis fans. We knew he liked peanut butter and banana sandwiches, but collectively we can name just a handful of his songs and movies. But this did not stop us from taking a visit to Graceland. I mean, we WERE in Memphis, right?

Graceland is the 2nd most visited private home in the United States (bonus points if you can name the first) and is just a short drive from downtown Memphis. Not knowing what the line situation would be once we arrived, I purchased my tickets online ahead of time. The package we chose included entrance to Graceland, an audio tour, and access to a few other exhibits on the grounds.

After picking up our tickets and taking our ‘souvenir photo,’ we boarded a bus that took us from the Visitor's Center through the music-note clad iconic gates, right to the front steps of Graceland. (The bus literally takes you across the street – not really sure the point of it, but I didn’t complain.) We sat in the back of the bus fearing that we’d be quizzed on our knowledge of the King, but thankfully, there were some mega-fans on the bus that deflected any attention away from us.

Once everyone gets off the bus, the tour begins. Before the front door opens, it is pretty much drilled into your head that flash photography is strictly prohibited. But the interior is well lit so it really didn’t turn out to be a problem.

Upon entering the vestibule, we saw the living room on the right and dining room on the left. Probably most recognizable to me were the stained glass peacock doors adorning the entrance to the music room. (I have a slight peacock obsession so I was entranced by them.) Since the tours are on a timetable, the tour guides gently push you through the rooms to keep the traffic flow moving. To maximize our time in each area, we stayed toward the very back of the pack. This gave me a chance to take pictures without anyone blocking my view. Because believe me, grown men and women were throwing elbows to jockey as close to the velvet ropes as they could. Love me tender, people!


There is a staircase leading to the upstairs bedrooms, but they are off limits. So you’re not going to actually see the room where Elvis got his beauty sleep.

Moving down the hallway, we find Elvis’ parents bedroom. Elvis treasured his parents and gave them a room of their own in his home. I truly loved the furniture in here.

Next up is the kitchen. Holy hell, it was dark in there! What were you thinking, Elvis? Carpeting on the floors?

A small stairway leads past the Jungle Room (more on that in a few) and down to the billiards room (again with the dark upholstery…this time on the ceiling and walls!) and the TV room, or as well called it the ‘Takin’ Care of Business’ room. We LOVED this room. From the lightning bolt ‘TCB’ insignia on the wall to the 3 TVs, it was perfection. Fact: Upon hearing that LBJ had 3 TVs turned to the big 3 networks, Elvis felt he needed the same. He WAS the King…

Back up the stairs, the tour concluded in the infamous Jungle Room. You wanna talk about tacky? Green shag carpeting on the floors and ceiling. Bamboo walls. Hmm, I guess it was the 70’s and all… Turns out, the design of this room provided pretty decent acoustics and Elvis recorded “The Jungle Room Sessions” here.

If you’re a non-Elvis fans like us and end up at at Graceland, you’ll find the audio portion of the tour invaluable. Without it, I probably would have just snapped pictures and meandered through the house clueless of what I was seeing. I learned so many random Elvis nuggets of information that might actually help me out during an episode of Jeopardy! one of these days.

Stay tuned for the next installment of our trip to Graceland -  Elvis’ planes (yes, he had multiple planes) and automobiles.

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